Lewiston, and her counterpart across the river, Clarkston, Washington, are located on the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers in the Lewis-Clark Valley. Five miles outside the city are the borders of the Nez Perce Reservation. At 738 feet, downtown Lewiston is the lowest point in Idaho, and is also renowned as Idaho's only seaport and oldest city. It's the Nez Perce County seat and the home of Lewis-Clark State College.
Originally, Lewiston was part of the lands of the Nez Perce tribe. Lewis and Clark's expedition camped at what is now Lewiston in 1805 and again in 1806. Lewiston was also the territorial capital of Idaho until the government offices were moved to Boise during the winter of 1864-65 in what is still regarded as a scandal.
Lewiston's history of immigrant Chinese miners is long and colorful. Gold was discovered in 1860 in what is now Pierce, Idaho, and as soon as the Chinese were allowed into the Pierce mining district in 1865, the region saw a boom in the Chinese population. Lewiston had a Chinese district downtown, which was eventually destroyed by fire. The first Chinese temple in Lewiston, the Beuk Aie Temple, burned in 1875.
Modern Lewiston is dominated by the Potlatch Corporation lumber sawmill, the largest employer in the valley, which gives it the nickname of "that stinky city" throughout the region. The pungent odor of the mill blankets downtown, though long-time residents become accustomed to the scent. Lewiston's economy has fallen on hard times recently, with increasing layoffs at Potlatch, as well as an influx of large chain stores. Environmental issues, such as the removal of the four lower Snake River hydroelectric dams, have also been the subject of heated debate. There are attempts to revitalize the sagging economy, especially by cashing in on Lewiston's history, including the 2003 Bicentennial Celebration of Lewis and Clark's expedition.